Giving to Others

“Do more than belong: participate. Do more than care: help. Do more than believe: practice. Do more than be fair: be kind. Do more than forgive: forget. Do more than dream: work.”  ― William Arthur Ward

I have been asked many times why I invest a great deal and time into things I do at church. The answer is simple. I do it to glorify God and not for my own personal or financial  gain.

Make a DifferenceIn the next couple weeks on December 5th I will be hosting the Ladies FOCUS Meeting at my church. When I do these types of things, I enjoy what I am doing. It does take a lot out of me, and I’m OK with that. It’s only once a year and for the most part the planning and gathering of items and plans are done way in advance. I actually started working out the details of this years FOCUS last December. God never fails to provide me with the physical strength, financial means and helpers.

One of the ladies at my church was telling me that it has to cost me a lot of money and a lot of time to do what I do. I can tell you this, that when I do something I do it right, I don’t cut corners. It isn’t about the money, it’s about seeing the smiles and joy on the faces of those who attend. I don’t add up the amount of money I spend since that isn’t important to me.

Not so long ago, an older lady at my church was telling me how much she looks forward to the gatherings I do at church. She then went on to tell me how she gets very few visitors and on most days she doesn’t see anyone unless it is her dogs. The smile and tears on her face is enough for me. There are others like her that may spend all of their days alone. If I can offer them just a moment of joy and happiness it is worth every penny and minute spent.

There was another person some time ago that professes to be a Christian. She and I were talking last year about how much she dislikes doing for others. She will do for others, but out of duty. She doesn’t enjoy giving to others since she feels it isn’t worth her time. I don’t get that mentality. Even Jesus is more blessed to give than to receive. We are instructed to feed the hungry and reach out to those who are in need. When we give for the right reason and the gifts are given with the proper attitude, we also benefit by having a healthier and happier life overall.

  • Acts 20:35, In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.

31e011035946bca2f0ab255619ad9281About 10 years ago, Chuck and I would put on a yearly Christmas party. For about 4 months I would put together the menus, decorations that would fit whatever theme and reserve a place big enough to host the party. I don’t know how I got it all pulled together since about 120 people showed up. My husband and I didn’t always know who many of the people were that showed up. As they entered the room that was filled with music, gifts and food, smiles came across their faces. For many this was the only true taste of Christmas and a hot meal they may have gotten. I was amazed at how many helpers came out to decorate and donate their time. For me, it was awesome.

Since my health has been far from good, I had to stop doing large gatherings like that. I guess I was more bummed about not having the ability to give to others than I was about my own health and limitations. But, God provided opportunities for me to still make a difference in other peoples lives. God has blessed me with the gift to do things for others and make a difference by putting things on my heart such as building our churches website, weekly power-points and luncheons like the FOCUS. Only because of God, can I do what needs to be done.  There is no way according to my Dr’s that I should still be here, yet alone do what I do. When the Dr’s ask me how I can do things, I just say, “It’s a God Thing.”

Since last Christmas I have been stocking up for December 5th. I have been working here and there on centerpieces and special decorations. For this Ladies FOCUS, the theme is “Windows to the Past.” I’m hoping and praying for a good turn out. I have been working hard at getting the word out.

I would like to thank my sister Joyce for helping me do a great deal of the work. I also would like to thank those who are stinging popcorn and donating time and energy to helping me get things set up. I couldn’t do it myself. God has blessed me with some pretty awesome people. My sister Joyce has a hard time seeing what it is that I am envisioning, but she is willing to help anyhow. I like to have it the way it is in my mind and that can be hard on those who help since I get picky. So, thanks to all.

Refusal to Live in Fear

John14.27There have been headlines going over news channels, the internet and newspapers on how the U.S.A. should be afraid and be aware of terror attacks that are possible. I don’t want to downplay the risks that there is to anyone. But, at the same time, I refuse to live in fear of what can or may happen. To me, that is giving them the power to control what I do.

As we hear more about terrorism, our attention is diverted to those things and we become obsessed. We are told that we should be on high alert when it comes to large crowds and crowded places. We need to be particularly caution because of the holidays approaching. These vigilante groups and Satan are out to intimidate and create fear.

In 2 Timothy 1:7 it says, “For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.” . I refuse to live in fear of anything that this world has to offer. My faith is in Christ alone. When we start giving into the scare tactics and threats of groups like ISIS, we are giving them the power not God. I believe that we should go about our lives and I will continue to talk to others about my relationship with Christ. Satan is NOT going to win. God is the winner in this spiritual warfare that is going on around us.

The more we hear about all of this terrorism we are becoming more fearful and obsessed over protecting ourselves from every imaginable thing. I get why people are insecure, worried and afraid of what could happen, but that shows that we aren’t putting God in control over us. It’s as if we are living in the dark dungeon and evil is hanging out at every turn and corner we go into.

If I give into the fear that I see on television, the internet and on the streets, that is telling me that I’m not putting my trust in God like I should be.

  • John 14:27 (NKJV) “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.

Since my trust is in Christ alone, I really see no other option other than guarding my heart against fear. We should all be guarding our hearts against fear.

  • Proverbs 4:20-23 (NKJV) My son, give attention to my words; Incline your ear to my sayings. 21 Do not let them depart from your eyes; Keep them in the midst of your heart; 22 For they are life to those who find them, And health to all their flesh. 23 Keep your heart with all diligence, For out of it spring the issues of life.

Some of the ways we are to guard our hearts is in the way we think. When we are fearful and afraid, we are choosing to be that way. We don’t have to live in a state of fear. We don’t have to be prisoners of fear. Nobody is forcing us into living in a constant state of fear. When we know that God is the winner and He is there, we don’t have to fear all the things we hear about. Just now, the news is covering how Turkey has shot down a Russian jet. People are reacting and scrambling for some kind of protection against what is going to happen next. Without a doubt in my mind, I can say that, “God knows the future”. Nothing that is happening right now is going to surprise God and God has it covered. It may not be to our liking. But God is Who I put all my trust and hope in, not in a world that is going to hell in a hand-basket.

We belong to God and because of that, I will NOT fear things of this world.

  • Isaiah 43:1 “But now, thus says the LORD, who created you, O Jacob, And He who formed you, O Israel: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name; You are Mine.”

God has told his people, “Fear not.” There shouldn’t be nothing that should cause God’s people to fear. For some reason people thinks that if we are believer in God, that doesn’t mean that we are immune to suffering. Our lives aren’t going to be picture perfect. I don’t expect my life to be perfect. If it were perfect, we wouldn’t need God.

When we go through difficult times, we are tempted to think that “God has left us and has forsaken us.” There are times I feel like I am drowning in the depths of the ocean. There have been times I felt like I couldn’t handle anything more coming my way. But! I did make it through and I can count on troubles coming my way and to those in the world. God will going to be there and I know that I won’t be going through it alone.

Everyone has problems they are dealing with. Jesus said, “The rain falls on the just and the unjust” (Matthew 5:45). We all experience tragedy at some time in life. But remember: God brings difficult situations into our lives to remind us how much we need Him. Every trial and struggles, we have the opportunity to trust and glorify Him. .

We can’t understand why He isn’t rescuing us and protecting us from the kind harm ISIS and the evils around us. We will suffer loss and pain. They can take our life here on earth. But they can’t take our eternal life with Christ. Our eternal life, our salvation, our hope, is “stored up for us in heaven” (Colossians 1:5). No matter what happens, no one can separate us from Christ and His love.  So, there is no need to fear terrorists and the evil of this world.


Thanksgiving Madness

Thanksgiving Day Shopping

If you have ever been to a grocery store to get your food, which I would think everyone has been at some point. As you reach the cashier you may notice that the cashier may be in a bad mood and a bit snippy.

For the cashier or for the person working in a retail setting or restaurant, you get to see first-hand just how bitter people can be. I feel bad for the cashiers when they have to deal with some of the people they have to deal with.I refuse to shop or go anywhere since the people working should get to enjoy the day also.

Here are some of my very own thoughts and comments. Since I have had more than my share of cashiering jobs, I would like to give you some from a real cashier and most of these will relate to all cashiers. If they don’t, then something is wrong with them.

Some customers have the mindset that the customer is always right. Let me tell you, they aren’t always right. There is nothing right about verbally abusing the cashiers or other employees. It happens all the time and re-consider their actions and words.

Since it is almost Thanksgiving I wanted to share my biggest cashiering pet peeve. The other day I was at the  grocery store and the cashier and I were talking about the hours they will be open on Thanksgiving. I did cashiering at a local grocery store for years and it always amazed me at what customers would say and do.I have a very long list of pet peeves that I hated when I did cashiering.

  1. Apologize: Of course you probably know my top one. It is that people don’t buy their stuff until the day of. If you are going to apologize since I have to work, then stop shopping or there would be no need to go to the store. It’s called thinking ahead.
  2. Express Lanes: OK, nobody can tell me that they can’t see a very large lighted up sign that says, ” 15 Items or Less.” If people can’t see the signs they may need glasses.  It never fails that a customer will come to the line with a grocery basket full. I would tell them this is express. We were told that we have to ring them up anyhow.
  3. WIC Vouchers– Ticks me off so much when mothers or fathers use all of the vouchers at one time. I’m not saying I have a problem with people who use them, I have a problem when people have no consideration for the cashier or the customers behind them. They will also use them on express. They say since each voucher and they have to be separate orders, I would have to take them. But it is inconsiderate to those who are needed to be rung up.
  4. Cell Phones: Customers talking on their cell phones while I am trying to ring up their items.I had one customer who was having a very colorful conversation and yelling at the person. When things happened like this I would get to where I would suspend their orders and told them the basket will be at customer service. They can go get it after they talk to whoever. I think it is incredibly rude to be on your phones while you are in stores or restaurants.
  5. Bra Money: It would be awesome if customers wouldn’t put money in the bras, socks, mouth and so on. I wouldn’t think customers would like to handle nasty bills that are placed in other places. If you can’t use a purse or you have no place to keep your money, I would suggest going out and purchasing a wallet or pocketbook.

For the most part, customers are awesome. I haven’t really had much of a problem with customers unless they think they are better than the person ringing up their food or items they have purchased.

My top and most subject that  gets me going is about working on Thanksgiving like I said earlier. Each year I would hear this comment over and over again, “I’m sorry you have to work on Thanksgiving Day.” Hello! I wouldn’t have to work on Thanksgiving if people would shop before Thanksgiving Day. It is because of customers who refuse to get what they need to get before the day. I always seen that as a slap in the face when they would make that comment.

If people would buy what they needed before then, then I could enjoy my day with my family. So instead, all those cashiers standing in front of said customer would be home if that customer wasn’t standing in front of them making these comments.

When I worked for Lins, and I’m not sure if they still do it, they would be open on Thanksgiving. The management would let people sign up if they would like to work. If they didn’t want to, then they didn’t have to. Which I guess is fine. It wasn’t as much the stores that I get upset with, since obviously there is a need since customers like to wait till the very last minute.

In closing, I just want to say that being courteous and appreciative can go a long ways. If you are standing in front of a cashier on Thanksgiving or Christmas, then you aren’t really sorry. So, you might just want to keep that comment to yourself. Because I can guarantee you that all cashiers have heard it a thousand times and we don’t believe it. Also, please be considerate because they are there to take care of you, not hear about how bad of a job they are doing.



Thankful For Much

Winnie Elder
My mom Winnie Elder- Happy Birthday in Heaven Mom- Love you and Miss you

My mom passed away on August 21, 2015 and her birthday is tomorrow (November 13). Mom would have been 73 yrs old tomorrow. Happy Birthday Mom- I love you and miss you. I can’t wait to see you again and to hear your voice.

My mom and dad didn’t have a lot of things. When I was small, my parents and grandparents did their best to shield us from the effects of growing up in hard times. While we knew things weren’t easy, mom always found a way to put food on the table and clothed us.

For me, growing up in that little one room house in Grovertown, Indiana was the highlight of my childhood. It was then that I felt I could be who I was. We lived with my grandparents off and on and we never got the idea that we were missing out on things. I can still picture walking up to the house where there was a pile of coal to the left of the house. There was no power and there was no running water. By all accounts the house was a shack. As I walked into the house there was a table with a couple chairs, with my grandma sitting there. She had her combat boots on, overalls and a cigar hanging from her mouth. The most important thing I remember about her is that she also had her Bible opened to whatever it was that she was studying.

Grandma and Grandpa DavisShe had a little room with a dirt floor that sat behind a curtain. It’s funny when I think about what I remember most. Since we had no power, running water and so on, we also never had indoor plumbing. If we had to go to the bathroom, we had to walk to the back of the property, which was 5 acres and we had to be sure to not get to close to where the chickens and geese were. If you have never had chickens, roosters and geese, let me tell you, they can be mean. My grandparents would let us kids take turns picking out the chickens we would have for dinner. I always made sure to choose the meanest ones and the ones that would chase me down. I loved loved loved being the next one to choose who will have their heads chopped off. I know it sounds barbaric, but I looked forward to cooking that rooster or chicken.

great_depression_soup_line_for_childrenI don’t know if many will remember what commodities are, but when times were hard and there was nothing to eat, my mom and grandma would get their monthly box of commodities. In the box there was corn meal, cheese, powdered milk, canned meat and not sure what else there was. Once in a while I would go with my mom and grandma to get food assistance and it was something we looked forward to each month and was thankful for. There were very long lines and it would take hours to get to the front of the line. My grandma and mom would always tell us how lucky and blessed we were because not everyone had the luxury of having food on the table or clothes on their backs.

With Thanksgiving coming up and thinking about what would have been my moms 73rd birthday tomorrow, I have been thinking about how much we did have. Maybe not in the same way many had, but we had what we needed, even if it was soup made out of rice and cabbage. There was one Christmas when my mom knew she wasn’t going to have money for us to even get a coat for the winter. She and grandma arranged with the Salvation Army to get us signed up to get new coats. If you have ever lived in Indiana or experienced blizzards, you would know that you need to have a coat. Even when we didn’t, we wouldn’t make a big deal. I wonder if that is to save face or something else.

Grandma Grace
This is my Grandma Grace and Grandma Minnie.

Since my grandparents had no heat and there was only the wood/coal burning stove to heat up the place, it sure was nice having a coat in addition to down feather mattresses that we could keep warm by the stove. My grandma Grace would have given the shirt off her back and done without if she knew that any of us kids were going to suffer. As I remember her prayers as she layed in her bed and sat at her table, I began to see how much she gave. Maybe not money since she had nothing. She gave us everything she had. I should add that whoever was the last person in bed was the one who had to go outside to get coal. If the fire went out, we would have literally frozen to death. Since there was only so much room on the bed that was more like sleeping bags in front of the stove, she would let one of us sleep with her. There was no heat by her bed. She literally had about 5 heavy blankets on her bed, just to keep us warm.

My Grandma Grace is the one person I can say that really opened my eyes up to how important it is to have faith in God and to really get to know Jesus Christ. She would sit at her table with the peanut butter can and a slice of bread while sharing the stories in the Bible. Without a doubt, I have my grandma to thank and so many others along the way for where I am today. Grandma would tell me that when I trust in God, He will take care of everything. He will put the right people in our lives when we need them the most. My grandma knew my mom was not a person of faith. In the last 6 months of her life, that changed though. Grandma was right though. God put people like Pastor Harry Myers, Christian friends, family and strangers along the way in my life.

I think about a few verses when I remember my grandma and about being thankful. Here are a couple of them:

  • Colossians 3:15-17. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
  • 1 Thessalonians 5:18, Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

As I think about my moms passing and her first birthday in heaven, I can honestly say that it is never easy loosing someone that you love. Just a couple weeks ago, I lost another friend to cancer that has been a life time friend of our families. My mom told me a couple years ago while I was visiting her that there were times she would have to beg her employer for food so she could feed us. Many times all we had was mush for all of our meals since that was all she could afford. She held my hand that day and apologized profusely because she couldn’t do more. She was trying to make amends the best she could. The look on her face was on filled with guilt and pain. She knew she wasn’t the best mom, but I told her that she did the best she could given the situation and that I loved her and so did God.

I want to just add that while we may not have had the best or the most. I can say that I work very hard at being thankful for all things. Even when I can’t see the positive, I think of my mom and my grandma. Some people have asked me how I can be positive when it comes to my health problems, diagnosis and prognosis. I say that it is pretty easy when I put my life and faith in God. I have chosen to adopt an “attitude of gratitude: as a lifelong permanent state of mind. Even as my grandma was fighting diabetes and had her legs amputated and died, she always put her faith in God and she rejoiced in knowing that this life is temporary.

My life experiences, my mom and grandma has taught me that my attitude plays a larger role when it comes to determining if I am going to be grateful or am I going to spend my time complaining about things I can’t change. The last year of my moms life was a roller-coaster ride. She did profess to believe in Jesus Christ and she was baptized before she passed away. But I can’t help but wonder how joyful her life would have been if she would have had the hope and joy of the Lord in her life a long time ago. I personally feel that I can be grateful in spite of all the problems that life on earth gives us. I have chosen to perceive things in a way that helps build my faith in God and to help others. It doesn’t do me or anyone else any good to grumble all the time. I do have my moments, but I try to refrain from them. My moms life taught me that I need to see the positive sides life’s hassles. Instead of getting down and letting things get the best of me, I give it to God and I redirect my thoughts.

As I have been flipping through Facebook pictures from when I was younger and of my mom, I am reminded of how my grandma and mom were instrumental in my life. Things weren’t always rosy. But, in those hard times God reminded me that He is there for me. God gave me the opportunity to talk to my mom about what He has done in my life and that God loves my mom. I was blessed because I was able to pass on the message that my Grandma Grace gave me so many years ago as she sat at her table with her Bible opened to pages that were thin and falling apart. All of these things I am grateful for. These life lessons have stuck with me in all things I do. People will be sharing what they are thankful for in the next coming weeks and we should be thankful in all things. My greatest moments in my life are those times when I have been rewarded by the generosity of others, which in turn has helped me be generous to others.

There has been some difficult times in our country, church and world. With all of the bitterness and ungrateful thoughts it is refreshing to hear messages of thanksgiving. There is something awesome when people share their messages of what they are grateful for. As I remember my mom and how she lost her battle with cancer, it doesn’t have to be a moment of anger, sadness or bitterness. While she is no longer here in the physical sense, she is still here in my heart and mind. One day there will be an awesome reunion. My grandma and mom has made a difference in the world and I will always carry their memories in the warmest of places.

Taming the Tongue

Sometimes it is necessary to just keep our mouths shut. I was having a discussion the other day and it was about watching what we say and taming of the tongue. I must say that I have problems doing that at times. I have gotten to the point where I pretty much say what is on my mind. Many years ago, my friend was saying, that it is better to not let things get bottled up. I have somewhat changed my views on this. The reason I say that is that words have the potential to destroy someone. I think the old saying, “if you don’t have something nice to say, then say nothing at all” is my motto when it comes to speaking. Otherwise I get myself in tons of trouble.

think-2As I ponder this subject I think of;

  • Ephesians 4:29 “ When you talk, do not say harmful things, but say what people need – words that will help others become stronger. Then what you say will do good to those who listen to you.”

I don’t know about you, but there are times I say hurtful things to others without meaning to say whatever it is out loud. They just go flying out there and I can’t take the words back once I spoke them.  Words care powerful. Words have the power to destroy or to build up. I can’t one hundred percent guarantee that everyone has problems with watching what is said to others. But, I would guess we all have had problems with the foot in mouth disease at times. I have found that over time, I get more frustrated and defensive when it comes to saying what is on my mind.

Taming my tongue has got to be the hardest thing for me. I know without a doubt that God isn’t pleased when people use words to hurt others. One of my friends was having problems with depression. She loved the Lord and she did everything in her power to be the best person she could be. I invited her to go to church with me. She said no more times than I can count. Eventually she gave in and went me. I was disappointed with some of the people at church.

gossipingMy friend who I will call Anne walked into the sanctuary. She didn’t have the best cloths on. She never went to church, so she dressed the best way she could. She and I sat down in the seats. I would say the congregation in Phoenix was around 200 people give or take a few. But, she and I sat there waiting for the service to begin. People would be greeting one another in their click. Only one person said hi to her. I asked her what she thought of the service . She told me she noticed how some of the people were sizing her up. By the way they were staring at her you would think she was a leper. To this day Anne doesn’t go to church. She said Christians fight more than any other group and she has no interest in being around Christians that acted the way the ones did at my old church. I tried to tell her that not all Christians are like that. And if they act like that, they will be accountable. We aren’t perfect, but thankfully we are forgiven. I also think that not all people who go to church is Christians. They may think they are, but they aren’t.

The next thing she noticed was that some of the people were talking to their friends and belittling others that were in the church. They were grumbling instead of being kind to one another they were discussing how bad this person or another person was. Some of the comments were about the choir and how awful they are. My friend was approached at one point and was invited to go to a small group Bible Study. I think the study on in 1 Corinthians. The subject they were studying is how you should love your brothers and sisters and be kind.  I thought the topic was kind of ironic considering all things.

Anne told me when we got into the car that she would never want to go back to church with me again. When I asked her why, she explained to me that the people there made her feel like she was an outsider and that their behavior was far from what she would think a Christian would be like. She told me the way people were backstabbing and belittling others in the church, that she can get that in her home where there are no Christians. Since I went to that church, I didn’t really pay much attention to what she was observing. I think I was desensitized since I knew everyone.

Our tongues can be like trying to tame a rabid dog. We get all up in a frenzy and in peoples faces. The Sunday after she went with me, I really paid attention. They came up to talk to me, but as they did they would make comments about other members and how unchristian like they are. There was about 5 other groups of people standing around taking to one another prior to the service. Those that professed to be Christians weren’t demonstrating love for one another,  love is the greatest commandment (Matthew 22:36-40). It was sad and discouraging to see those who I thought were loving and Christlike were acting far from it. When I came home, I wasn’t joyful.

I had to really look deep inside my heart and mind when I came home. I had to pray for guidance when it comes to taming my tongue. It’s as if at church people put on this mask. Once they walk out of the doors of the church then the true self comes out. I had to ask myself some serious questions when it comes to taming my tongue. Some of them are harder for me to do and I am guilty of hurting others by the words I say. God makes it very clear when He says, “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouth” (Ephesians 4:29).

I understand that people will let us down and we get frustrated. I have been there done that way to many times. Since the experience with my friend Anne I have made some mental notes when it comes to taming my tongue. I am still a work in progress though. But I’m getting there.

Obviously, our words can do big-time harm. But they also have the power to do incredible good.

love-one-anotherYou’ve probably heard the song that goes, “And they’ll know we are Christians by our love.” I love that song and I think the words to that song are words we need to keep in our hearts. One of the greatest way to show that we love one another is my showing our love through the words we speak. One of the best ways to show our love is through our words. Our words also have the potential and the power to do an abundance of good.

  • “Encourage one another,” the Bible tells us in 1 Thessalonians 5:11, “and build each other up.”
  • “If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless” (James 1:26).

When I consider what I say or do, I would hope and pray that those around me knows that I am a believer in Christ. I like to keep myself in check with it comes to my walk with the Lord. I don’t want those in my life and in my church to make a statement such as, “You call yourself a Christian, and you said THAT?”

bundle32As I was reading up on the whole “taming the tongue subject, I got to thinking and looking up verses on how to handle taming my tongue when it wants to go flying all over the place. It is like that commercial for Progressive Insurance. The guy goes running around like a bee buzzing. Words go flying and he is penalized for saying stupid stuff. There are a number of verses that cover taming the tongue.

The Bible has a boat load of things to say about gossip and slander. Here are some examples:

    • Proverbs 20:19 -“A gossip betrays a confidence; so avoid a man who talks too much”.
    • Leviticus 19:16 – “Do not go about spreading slander among your people”.
    • Ephesians 4:31 -“Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice”.
    • James:3 –  Taming the tongue and two kinds of wisdom.

Ephesians 4:32: “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”

In closing, I just want to say that when we go chomping at the bit and using unkind and unloving words, we need to remember that those words aren’t pleasing to God. I also need to make a conscious effort to remember that there are non-Christians that are watching. I want to be sure that they see Christ in me, not hate and anger.

“In Crowd” in Churches

A few weeks ago while I was getting ready for our Monday evening Bible Study, I was in the outer office making copies. As I was waiting for the copies to be done, I was looking through old church pictures and at the pictures of the pastors on the wall next to Pastor Ray’s office. In those pictures, there is all of the pastors that I have known since coming to St. George Community Church. But, there is one missing from the wall. That pastor would be Pastor Wayne Jewel.

For those who didn’t know him or hear of how bad things were for our church, count yourself as blessed. Pastor Wayne caused so many problems that people left the church and they decided that the Bible wasn’t correct and NOT the inspired Word of God.

We were still with American Baptists. USA at the time. There came a time when this pastor decided to put in his resignation because he said that people wouldn’t do what he told them to do. He also didn’t believe all of what was in the Bible. I would say this was probably the first true problems that gave Satan a stronghold in our church. Wayne didn’t want to do what the Bible said, he had his own agenda. His wife refused to participate in anything since she didn’t want her husband preaching. She also had a deep resentment for the area. She was a school teacher and she was uprooted. She became very bitter and angry.

We actually stopped going to church when he came there. I never took our membership, but I stepped down from everything because of all the bitterness of the pastor and the divisions that came about.

While all of these horrible things were going on, I am reminded of what Paul tells the churches in Matthew 16:18 – Paul talking to the Corinthians; Some were with Apollo, and some were with Paul. I don’t think that it was the leaders that were the trouble makers, it was the church body. Paul didn’t approve of the church body when it came to separating themselves into groups. Paul asked them this question, “Is Christ divided” (1 Corinthians 1:13)?  Obviously the answer is “no.”  There were a number of issues when it came to Corinth that were public issues. Some of the issues that we still see in churches today and obviously my church wasn’t exempt is how people carry their own denominational baggage of sorts when they come to church. One of the things I have been guilty of myself is that I have gone to churches that ended up not really teaching the Bible. Too many teachings and their own personal views came into play and those things eventually caused a great division.

Paul’s preaching was simple. This is how he described his policy: When I came to you brothers, I did not come with eloquence or superior wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God. 1 Cor 2 :1. I would have to say that this pretty much says it point blank.

  • 1 Cor. 3:11 – For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ.

You will find in churches today that there are splits and denomination divisions.  They can often be found within all churches as was the case at Corinth.

  • The devotees to Paul
  • The devotees to Apollo
  • The devotees to Peter
  • The devotees to Christ

As I was looking at the missing picture of Wayne Jewel, I was also thinking about how Paul rebuked the division that was going on in Corinth. Paul didn’t tell the Corinthians that they need to overlook their differences. Paul instructed them to knock off their practices that was causing division and seek unity by practicing the true teachings of God.

What gets me about the Corinthians is that it wasn’t good enough for them to be Christians. They had to feel like they were special because they were following the teachings of Christ, Paul, Peter or Apollos. This behavior is rampant in individual churches and denominations. This is also extremely destructive behavior. My church use to be affiliated with the American Baptist Churches USA like I said before and there were those who came to church that were die-hard American Baptists, German Baptists, Southern Baptists, Lutherans, Catholics, Presbyterians and a whole lot of other belief systems. They had to be either be laxed or strict, there was also those that had to be wrong and someone that was right.

When Wayne came to our church, I was given the opportunity to see just how ugly and unGodly people really were. It wasn’t about God at all. It was about who was right and who they believed in. When Paul came up against all of this destructive behavior. He was not impressed at all. I wonder what Paul would think about what goes on in churches today. I would think he would be horrified by how far people and churches have gone when it comes to worshiping Christ Alone.

Don't Shoot the MessengerIs Christ divided? Jesus Christ is the ONLY ONE. Jesus has one body. He isn’t like a lego where He has to be put together and different things make up His body. He is one body and as Christians, we are the body of Christ. Each and every Christians need to remember that we are joined to the head and dependent upon one another. When it comes to denominations and divisions, it isn’t like we can take this part of Him and move each brick around to form Jesus in the way we want. It sure seems like there is a whole lot of anger and unfriendliness going on? Why do we fight each other when we should be united in our faith and belief in Jesus Christ. I don’t get it.

Paul appeals, not on his own behalf,  but in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Paul knows that Jesus demands the unity for all believers. When I look around at the churches and people nowadays, I think we have moved far away from what the one and only true God of the Bible says. There are thousands of churches and denominations because of divisions within the church. Shoot, any more people will get butt hurt over the simplest of things. I really like the pastor we have now and the ones in the past. Our previous pastor would always say, “don’t shoot the messenger”. He would say that because his responsibility was to deliver the Word of God. He wasn’t going to sugar coat things so people don’t get their feel bads hurt. I would want the honest truth instead of stroking my ego any day. I feel Pastor Ray is that way also. I may not agree or understand everything he says, but if it is in the Bible, then I can’t disagree with God. That is NOT a good idea.

As I watch the news and keep up to date on what is going on in the world, I am thoroughly convinces that Satan has been successful when it comes to bringing about confusion in our day and times. People keep looking and searching for new churches until they find one that will line up with what they think it should be and according to their will, not Gods. I know way to many people who will leave a church because someone doesn’t agree with them. I hate to say this, but, we will never find a church or people that is going to always agree with me or anyone else. It’s a good thing because I am wrong all the time. I don’t need a following. I just need Jesus.

Sheeps and Goats
         Sheeps and Goats

Wayne was the first time our church really had such a split and it was ugly. I honestly don’t think that God would have been pleased whatsoever. After a couple years and he was gone, we returned to church. We didn’t stop going to church though. We would go church hopping and to this day, I still have many wonderful friends from those churches and some are going to my church now. At first I was thinking how horrible it is that people get upset over some of the things they do. Then I started reasoning things out because even in the Bible people were being separated into the sheep’s and the goats (Matthew 25:31-46).

I think today, there is a huge division over the “end times”. I love to study the end times, but what I have concluded is that no matter what theory or stand someone may have on them, in the end God is in control. I don’t need to understand every little thing there is, because in the end, God is in control. I don’t need to know the day or the hour, because in the end God is in control. I think man has a way of making things complicated and wants to be right. But in the end, God is in control, not me. So, I will just keep doing what I am doing and sharing the Gospel with others, because I know there will be an end and that is because God is in control.

In closing, I just want to say that many of today’s problems are because of Man, not God. I see the division that Pastor Wayne and those in our church in the early 2000’s as a social group. You had the one side of the church that loved Wayne, so they were in the “In Crowd”. He would greet them and they would hang out because they were, “his friends”. Then you have the not so popular side that is wanting to be part of the in crowd, but a hand goes up and they are told, “sorry, you’re not my friend”, so they are excluded.

Churches aren’t exempt from having their own “In Crowd”. Thankfully our church is filled to the brim with wonderful Godly people who love the Lord. As I look around though, I can’t help but wonder where their hearts really are. Churches have small groups instead of Bible Studies. My church still calls them Bible Studies as they should be. They should be about God and the infallible Word of God. But, it is sad that many churches don’t teach about what the Bible says. They add their own thoughts and interpretation’s. I have even seen it where they don’t even use the Bible as a resource. All of man’s ideas are interjected into the message.

Divisions like the one that happened when Wayne was at our church comes about because of man’s failure to not listen to God. If man would stay right with God and have a personal relationship with God, then there would be unity in the churches, not division. In order for us to have a real relationship with God, we must have a fellowship with each other.

  • 1 John 1:3. We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ.

Focusing on Prayer

Last night was one of those nights like many nights for me. I have a difficult time sleeping because of medical reasons that are affiliated with Myasthenia Gravis and the CIPD which is the chronic form of Guillian Barre Syndrome. On nights when I have more pain that makes it impossible to sleep or breath comfortable my mind gets going on other things. Most of the time I fill my worst nights with thoughts of prayer and thanksgiving. I’m not meaning the kind of thanksgiving as in the one day a year where we are suppose to be thankful for all the things we have. We should be thankful each and every day.  My thoughts and prayers on people and the hurts of the world.

Last night and this week I have had many sleepless nights. Not only because of pain and difficulties, but my nights and dreams are about those I love. Most of my thoughts last night as I was laying in bed trying to get comfortable is how I need to work on my prayer life. I have many conversations with God, but He has been directing me to be more mindful and direct when it comes to praying. The movie War Room has shown me that I need to be focusing on praying for others continually and effectively for others.

war-room-stillsI can’t help but pay attention to all the things going on in this world. If others can’t see it, they are blind. Everyday we hear more and more about the evils happening before our eyes. It is easy to get discouraged. But there is something we can do. God has given each of us the ability to fight evil and overcome things with the most powerful weapon possible and that would be prayer.

warrior-angelI fully believe in Jesus Christ and we are told that prayer requests and thanksgiving should be done for everyone. As a believer in Christ we aren’t exempt from praying for others. During this weeks Monday evening Bible Study one of the ladies brought up how we are in a spiritual battle with Satan. She is right, we have to pray for our own spiritual well-being and focus in praying for others. Without a doubt we are in the middle of a war whether we like it or not. We are all caught up in the spiritual war that’s taking place between good and evil. When we trust in God’s power we can trust that He is greater than any evil working against us and in the world. Our prayers can help stop bad things from happening to others. We are called to pray for others.

  • Romans 8: 26-27, Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groaning too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.
  • Ephesians 6:12–18, “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and shaving put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints.”

Our church has a men’s prayer meeting on Saturdays and I have been really thinking on how prayer shouldn’t be limited to just the men or on one day. While I was talking to one of the ladies at church, we were discussing having a study on prayer for the ladies. We will be taking a break from our Monday night Bible Study this week, but prayer is something we never should take a break from. As I was laying awake, I kept thinking about or God put it on my heart that even though we won’t be doing the evening study, we can still meet and pray on Monday evenings. Give each of the ladies a journal and during the week they can write down their thoughts and prayers and when we meet, we can pray for those prayers.

As I was praying on this and thinking about how it would work out, there was a few things that came to mind. We would let the Holy Spirit lead us as we pray for our community, church family, friends, missions, or whoever or whatever else are in need of prayers.

God seems to put a lot of things on my heart at night. It must be because that is the only time when He really gets my attention since my heart and mind isn’t cluttered by all the other things going on in my life and in the world. My mind gets pretty cluttered during the day time. But a couple verses comes to mind as I think and ponder about a evening prayer meeting for the ladies. BTW, this is one of those things that is out of my comfort zone. I pray, but I don’t usually pray in groups. It must be something that God is wanting instead of me. And I can’t argue with God since He is always right. 🙂

  • Acts 12:12 – Peter went to the house of Mary where others gathered for prayer.
  • Acts 1:13-14 – scripture records that all with one mind were continually devoting themselves to prayer, along with the women.

prayerhorseIn closing I just want to add that one of the things that has been heavy on my mind and heart is that our time in short. We don’t know when we will be called home or when Christ will come again. Nothing is impossible when we trust in God. When you pray about especially challenging situations. Commit everything you pray about fully to God. As I spend time praying I must keep in mind that I have to resist the lies that Satan by submitting your my life completely to God. While I am reading God’s Word (the Bible) I need to be praying for others and remember what’s true and what’s not.

Our life is full of obstacles and battles. Every time we turn around there are threats present. The awesome news is that we have the best weapon at our disposal and that is prayer. When we put on the full armor of God’s word, Jesus is there with us. We can face every enemy and we can be confident in knowing that we will be victorious. While we will always have struggles and we may get discouraged, we can rest assured that we are on the winning side because if God is for us then how can we loose.There isn’t anything that God doesn’t understand. As we learn more about God through His Word, we can face anything without fear. God will give us the strength if only we turn to Him.

  • 2 Samuel 10:12 Be strong, and let us fight bravely for our people and the cities of our God. The Lord will do what is good in his sight.
  • 1 John 5:4 For everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith.

This week has been overwhelming at times for me. A very dear lifelong friend lost her battle with cancer. Robin went home to be with the Lord last night. She loved the Lord and I know that while she is no longer here, she is resting in the arms of God. I can rest peacefully in knowing that God is with me and all of those who have faith in Him. God would never leave His children to battle the things of this world alone. God is more powerful than any army and any battle that we come up against.

  • Psalms 28:7 The LORD is my strength and my shield; My heart trusts in Him, and I am helped; Therefore my heart exults, And with my song I shall thank Him.

Listen to Victory In Jesus Video on YouTube.